Do ‘Cheeseburger Bills’ Work? Effects of Tort Reform for Fast Food

47 Pages Posted: 26 May 2015 Last revised: 7 May 2022

See all articles by Christopher S. Carpenter

Christopher S. Carpenter

Vanderbilt University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sebastian Tello-Trillo

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship

Date Written: May 2015

Abstract

After highly publicized lawsuits against McDonald’s in 2002, 26 states adopted Commonsense Consumption Acts (CCAs) – aka ‘Cheeseburger Bills’ – that greatly limit fast food companies’ liability for weight-related harms. We provide the first evidence of the effects of CCAs using plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of CCA adoption across states. In two-way fixed effects models, we find that CCAs significantly increased stated attempts to lose weight and consumption of fruits and vegetables among heavy individuals. We also find some evidence that CCAs increased employment in fast food. Finally, we find that CCAs significantly increased the number of company-owned McDonald’s restaurants and decreased the number of franchise-owned McDonald’s restaurants in a state. Overall our results provide novel evidence supporting a key prediction of tort reform – that it should induce individuals to take more care – and show that industry-specific tort reforms can have meaningful effects on market outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Christopher S. and Tello-Trillo, Daniel, Do ‘Cheeseburger Bills’ Work? Effects of Tort Reform for Fast Food (May 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21170, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2610461

Christopher S. Carpenter (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/kittcarpenter/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Daniel Tello-Trillo

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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